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DARPA SAFE-SiM developing theater-wide, multi-domain, mission level modeling & simulation tools for mosaic warfare

The emerging battlefield is a multi-domain battlefield which shall include all the traditional domains of land, air and sea as well as Cyber, Space, Low Intensity conflicts, Information warfare including Psychological warfare and cognitive warfare shall be exploited by our adversaries simultaneously or in any desired combinations.


DARPA has been advocating for a “system of systems” approach also called mosaic warfare: the ability to piece together different systems to build new overarching warfighting capabilities. Tim Grayson, director of STO at DARPA,  said that the mosaic approach will require a shift in U.S. military policy from dominance to “lethality.” Grayson believes DOD’s various domains currently spend too much time, money and effort trying to ensure its weapons systems are more advanced then adversaries. “It’s imperative to focus on lethality and the ability to win, regardless of whose individual weapons system is the best,” Grayson said. “A fundamental way to achieve this lethality is by distributing and disaggregating the sensors and weapons that today that are tightly bound together and integrated on monolithic platforms.” Grayson explained Mosaic Warfare is “very complementary” to the Multi-Domain Battle (MDB, older Army lingo) and MDO (current Army and Air Force lingo) concepts “in that it is based upon the same principles of a mission-centered capability, but Mosaic is providing technology and infrastructure to give MDB more options, composed faster.”


Modeling and Simulation are critical enablers for military training, analysis, decision-making and capability development. In military domain, Modeling and simulation have been primarily developed and applied in the areas of Defense planning; development, engineering and acquisition of systems; training and exercises and operational planning. It contributes to saving lives, saving time and money and preparing the war fighter better, faster and cheaper. The realistic testing of live equipment in an operational environment can be some of the most expensive parts of a development program. M&S can provide insight into mission success of yet to-be designed systems without the need to actually build and test the system in the real world. “Similarly, M&S tools can evaluate human effectiveness under various scenarios while only risking the virtual lives of avatars. When properly applied, M&S capabilities provide critical insight that allows leaders to make smart decisions about how to accomplish the mission and increase human performance more quickly and at lower cost and risk than reliance on real-world testing,” write Scott D. Snyder and James M. Taylor, Jr.of  University of Nebraska.


Over the past few decades, projecting military power has relied on complex capabilities to achieve results that separate weapon systems or segments of military power cannot handle.  The future battlefield  will comprise of combination of effects created by systems in or delivered through all domains, from the seafloor to space, including those via cyber and the electromagnetic spectrum, dictates a different approach to concept development. U.S. military and intelligence modeling, furthermore, cannot provide the necessary support.


Creating an M&S architecture to support these types of analyses presents several unique challenges. First, existing simulation architectures are typically used to represent limited domains or mission areas. While they may excel single domains, they are not well suited to characterize interactions across the cyber, space, air, ground, and sea domains. This is particularly acute in the cyber and EM spectrum. Second, creating mission-level scenarios is time consuming and requires specialized training, which greatly limits the utility for producing rapid responsive analysis.


Third, multi-domain kill-webs present a factorial increase in possible inter-relationships that will test the limits of current analytic approaches as well as the ability to visualize the complex analytical results. In the past the delivery of effects could be described by linear ‘kill chains’ with a single execution path, this new level of complexity demands an understanding of ‘kill webs’—complex  representations of effect chains with multiple possible paths. Existing M&S architectures are not designed to handle this complexity rapidly enough to support the responsive analysis demanded by the DoD.  Finally, current M&S architectures are limited in their ability to import, process, and disseminate M&S data at multiple classification levels in a timely, responsive manner.


DARPA launched SAFE-SiM in 2020, run out of DARPA’s Adaptive Capabilities Office,  to develop a “government-owned and controlled, faster-than-real time,” all-domain modeling and simulation environment at the mission level. “This capability would enable rapid analysis supporting senior-level decisions for concept of operations development, force structure composition, resource allocation and targeted technology insertion,” the contract announcement said.


DARPA’s SAFE-SiM Program

Increasingly warfighters and decision-makers need to explore future operational and technological innovation concepts in a joint, theater-wide, all-domain simulated setting supported by efficient and credible mission analysis. In this context, teams of analysts, technologists and warfighters require a theater level, multi-domain modeling and simulation environment comprised of models that capture knowledge and insights from a multi-disciplinary community covering a broad range of technical and warfighting areas.


In this environment, the team conducting the analysis must be able to 1) Identify candidate/appropriate models for a given mission analysis problem, 2) Conduct assessment and classification of assembled assets and 3) Compose and configure assets to address and meet the analytic needs. However, the embodiment of the multi-disciplinary knowledge in models lacks the adequate level of attribution and explanation. This lack of attribution and traceability greatly impacts the ability of users to reuse, transform, and rapidly configure simulation architectures to support concept exploration.


To address this challenge, the Department of Defense and The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have taken an important first step by developing a Modeling and Simulation catalogue  and proposing a service model to transition towards the notion of Modeling and Simulation as a Service.


DARPA is interested in pushing the limits of the service model by developing a “smart” model asset management prototype that 1) enables a multi-disciplinary team with operational, analysis, and technology expertise to rapidly discover, evaluate, modify, and integrate models representing kill-web architectures, platforms, systems, components and 2) allows operational units to conduct mission analysis at theater-level, multi-domain, from space to sea-floor.


The proposed approach should be generalizable to support any current model asset type (data, algorithm. model, simulation) and be flexible enough to incorporate and compose future model asset types. The prototype should allow the ingestion of model asset instances and
demonstrate the creation of model asset catalogues that support 1) an estimation of the time and level of effort it takes to integrate the assets in the catalogue and 2) an evaluation of the impact of adding, removing and replacing an asset to meet a mission analysis objective.


The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is soliciting innovative proposals in the following technical areas: Design and development of an integrated architecture for theater-wide, multi-domain, mission level modeling and simulation (M&S), from seafloor to space, including cyber and EM spectrum capabilities. The system should leverage existing threat, friendly, and other representative models for exploring adaptive warfighting architectures and concept development that uses existing and future representative models developed for use in AFSIM, NGTS, and ITASE at a minimum.


The SAFE-SiM project will create an intuitive modeling and simulation user interface for rapid scenario construction, advanced visualization capabilities, and analytical tools that enable broad analysis of simulated data. Design and development of an intuitive user interface that enables military analysts the ability to easily interact with the M&S architecture described above and rapidly construct, alter, and run theater-wide, mission level scenarios within system of system constructs.


Development and integration of advanced analytic and visual tools that support senior level military decision makers, technology developers, and acquisition professionals for use in concept of operations (CONOP) development, force structure composition, resource allocation, and targeted technology insertion.


Development and integration of hardware and/or software solutions that enable MultiLevel Security (MLS) capabilities within the M&S architecture. These should provide the ability to ingest M&S-specific data up to and including SECRET, TOP SECRET, SCI, and Special Access (SAP) classification levels through external network connections, rapid reconfiguration of the classification level of the M&S computing environment, and dynamically tailoring M&S analytical results to varying levels dependent upon the appropriate access level of multiple end users.


Phase II efforts will focus on the development of a model management framework and process that 1) identifies and classifies different types of assets currently in use within DoD, 2) defines an architecture for managing future types, 3) defines an evaluation framework to identify interoperability and integration gaps and 4) defines a portfolio evaluation framework to identify and estimate the level of effort and time required to create a solution given an analytic question. The final products should be specific and actionable for advanced prototyping.


The algorithms developed under the sponsorship of this SBIR topic have potential applications in private industry and defense. Modeling and simulation (M&S) analysis is used by DoD industry partners to assess the performance of products within specific mission areas and environments. Smart model repository tools could be employed within proprietary flight simulator environments and mission-level industry modeling tools. The modeling and simulation aids the development of concepts of employment and also aids identification of performance gaps and/or performance improvements. The smart model repository will enable these simulations to be conducted more rapidly and more cost effectively.

In addition, the Department of Defense has invested heavily in the development of several modeling and simulation environments to include AFSIM, Next Generation Threat System and ITASE. All of these environments require an intensive manual process for the identification, collection and then integration of models and other assets in order to create a mission scenario that can be run within the M&S environment.
The Smart Model Repository will create a query-based means of automating the current manual process. It is anticipated that the Smart Model Repository will rapidly provide a collection of model candidates and thereby allow more thorough mission-level analysis.


DARPA Awards

Officials of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va., awarded contracts worth a collective $19.3 million for the Secure Advanced Framework for Simulation and Modeling (SAFE-SiM) program. DARPA awarded SAFE-SiM contracts to Radiance Technologies Inc. in Huntsville, Ala.; and to Cole Engineering Services Inc. in Orlando, Fla. Radiance won a $10.1 million contract, and Cole Engineering won a $9.1 million contract.


Radiance Technologies and to Cole Engineering experts will develop theater-wide, multi-domain, mission level modeling; user interface; analytic and visual tools; and hardware and software solutions with multi-level security. These information security tools should enable the system to ingest modeling and simulation data up to and including SECRET, TOP SECRET, SCI, and Special Access (SAP) classification levels through external network connections, rapid reconfigure the classification level of the modeling and simulation environment, and dynamically tailor analytical results several kinds of end users.


Radiance will do its SAFE-SiM work in Huntsville, Ala.; Cambridge, Mass.; Albuquerque, N.M.; Chantilly, Va.; San Diego; and Rome, N.Y., while Cole Engineering will do its work in Orlando, Fla., and Austin, Texas. Both companies should be finished by August 2021.


Work is anticipated to be completed on both contracts in August 2021. Fiscal 2020 research, development, test and evaluation funds totaling $3.75 million were obligated at the time of the award.


In August 2020, DARPA awarded Cole Engineering Services and Radiance Technologies contracts to help the agency construct the government-owned and operated SAFE-SiM environment to support simulation functionalities faster than real-time.


In Sep 2020, L3Harris Technologies  won a one-year, $22.2M contract to continue research support for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s initiative aimed at developing next-generation modeling and simulation technologies. L3Harris will help DARPA complete R&D activities for the Secure Advanced Framework for Simulation and Modeling program as part of the cost-plus-fixed-fee award, the Department of Defense said Friday. Work under the contract includes concept and force structure development, analysis services, resource allocation support and technology insertion activities.


DARPA received 10 bids for the contract through a competitive solicitation process and will obligate $5.3M in fiscal 2019 research, development, test and evaluation funds at the time of award. Twenty-five percent of contract work will take place in Arlington, Texas, and the remaining 75 percent in various U.S. locations through September 2021.



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